Lichfield City 2 Nuneaton Griff 1

Tuesday 12th March 2013
After winning impressively at Walsall Wood two weeks ago, Lichfield City claimed the scalp of another Premier Division title contender with a 2-1 victory over Nuneaton Griff. On the night when the new stands were used for the first time, all the goals came after the break with City coming from behind after Mitchell Thompson gave Griff the lead nine minutes after the restart. Jon Huckfield levelled things up on the hour before Josh Bambury scored a 77th-minute winner. Brownsfield Park has certainly been transformed since my previous visit in August 2011 with the addition of a perimeter fence, two new stands and floodlights amongst other improvements.

Lichfield City 2 Nuneaton Griff 1
Athium Midland Combination Premier Division
At: Brownsfield Park, Brownsfield Road
Kick-off: 7-45 pm
Admission: £3; Programme: £1 (12 pages)
Weather: cold, dry

After the sub-zero wind chill at Coles Lane last night, together with hard ground in my local area and a dusting of snow overnight, I honestly expected all local games to be postponed tonight due to frozen pitches. Somewhat surprisingly this afternoon, Lichfield City tweeted that it was ‘game is on tonight, pitch is in great condition’. At the end of last week, they had also said the new stands were complete.

Even though, closer to home, Brocton were hosting Bolehall Swifts in tonight’s other Premier Division fixture, I fancied a return visit to Brownsfield Park to see how the ground had changed.

Previously a railed-off pitch on a larger playing field, the ground is now fully enclosed with a green fence and two new stands erected, one containing 75 seats and the other a covered terrace. Floodlights have also been installed as well. Future plans include rebuilding the changing rooms and moving the pitch around 10 feet away from the hedge to be closer to the relocated dugouts. The place certainly has been transformed for Premier Division football since my previous visit in August 2011 (

Promoted to the Premier Division at the end of last season, Lichfield (11th with 37 points from 23 games) went into tonight’s fixture in good form. They’d lost just one of their last eleven league game, the defeat coming ten days ago at Coventry Copsewood. Two weeks ago Lichfield won 2-1 at title favourites and FA Vase heroes Walsall Wood.

A programme article I wrote for the weekend mentioned that the Premier Division title would be won by either Littleton or Walsall Wood, unaware that Nuneaton Griff would move within two points of the leaders by winning their games in hand. So, after defeating Pershore Town 2-0 at home on Saturday, Griff went into tonight’s game in 4th position with 44 points from 22 games. A win by three or more goals over Lichfield would lift them up to second. I ought to add that Lichfield are very much in contention for a top five finish as well.

There were quite a few familiar faces in the crowd – ‘Albion Steve’ who was at Coles Lane last night, ‘Cannock Rob’, ‘Orange Hat Coxy’, ‘Mugsy’ and ‘Wolves Stan’, plus Stafford-based referee Mat Randles.

Lichfield (in blue) got the game underway defending the changing rooms end in the first half. Both sides created an early chance with City’s goalkeeper Craig Johnson safely holding a 35-yard drive from Kyle Baxter and Ollie Budd shot wide of the Griff goal.

In what was a midfield battle with defences on top, scoring opportunities, however, were few and far between during the first half. Occasional shots and free-kicks came to nothing though a run down the left by Keiron Brehon ended with a near-post shot into the sidenetting of the Lichfield goal shortly before the interval.

Though not as cold as Romulus last night, we all needed to pop into the clubhouse for a half-time warm.

As I continuing to watch the game from the half-way line opposite the dugouts in the company of the aforementioned familiar faces, Lichfield were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Josh Bambury by Todd Perry within 40 seconds of the restart. But Ashley Evans fired against the wall. Another free-kick from Dan Thurstance, a few minutes later, did hit the target and Dave Watson produced a straightforward save.

Nuneaton Griff broke the deadlock in the 54th minute. From a free-kick on the right delivered into the area, Mitchell Thompson hit a well-struck from inside the area which had too much power for defender Jon Huckfield to keep out.

The two handwarmers I resisted using during the first half both came in useful as the cold started to make an impact on hands and toes (though they couldn’t be warmed).

Lichfield got back on level terms on the hour also from a free-kick. Ryan Baker played the ball into the area which was flicked on by Perry for Huckfield to head home at the far left-hand post.

Griff responded and should have regained the lead in the 65th minute. Aden Moore on the right bye line pulled the ball back for totally unmarked Josh Ruff who somehow shot wide. As someone near me said, it was “easier to score than miss”.

Having survived that scare, Lichfield scored what proved to be the winner in the 77th minute. Richard Deaville got down the right and crossed low to the far post where Bambury sidefooted home.

Late in the game, Lichfield brought on Ashley Bennett who picked up a booking for continuing after the referee’s whistle within seconds of replacing Budd.

Referee Mat Randles had a decent and trouble-free game with nothing controversial or nasty to deal with in a good-natured contest.

Near the end, Griff almost equalised when Ruff saw a low shot cleared by Huckfield from in front of goal.

The win lifted Lichfield up several places to seventh in the table. Brocton also moved up to sixth with a 4-3 win at home to Bolehall Swifts with Gary Fife bagging a hat-trick. On a good night for the local sides I follow, West Midlands League Wolverhampton Casuals won 3-1 at Cradley Town and a brace from Edwin Ahenkorah gave Rocester a 2-0 victory at Highgate United in the Midland Alliance. Heath Hayes drew 1-1 at leaders Stratford Town, also in the Midland Alliance.

Lichfield City (blue with white V / blue / blue): 1. Craig Johnson, 2. Richard Deaville, 3. Jordan Hunt, 4. Todd Perry (capt), 5. Jon Huckfield, 6. Dave Worrall, 7. Ollie Budd, 8. Ryan Baker, 9. Kyle Minton, 10. Josh Bambury, 11. Ashley Evans. Subs: 12. Will Evans (not used), 14. Ashley Bennett (for Minton, 84), 15. Dan Thurstance (for Worrall, 31), 16. Lewis Bourne (for Budd, 66), 17. Dan Billings (not used). Manager: Paul Holt (away); assistant manager: Alex Milner.

Nuneaton Griff (red/black/black): 1. Dave Watson, 2. Corey Faulconbridge, 3. Tom Lillicrap, 4. Jamie Geenway, 5. Ryan Millerchip (capt), 6. Kyle Baxter, 7. Mark Williams, 8. Mitchell Thompson, 9. Aden Moore, 10. Josh Ruff, 11. Keiron Brehon. Subs: 12. Adam Sullivan, 14. Danny Pritchard (for Thompson, 73), 15. Dave Barnett (for Williams, 73), 16. Dan Robinson (not used). Manager: John Falmer.

Referee: Mat Randles (Stafford).
Assistants: Rob Palmer and Nicola Arrowsmith.

Attendance: 72

Duration (45): first-half: 45:33; second-half: 48:27

0-1 Mitchell Thompson (54)
1-1 Jon Huckfield (60)
2-1 Josh Bambury (77)

Lichfield: Jon Huckfield (YC, 53), Ashley Bennett (YC, 85)
Nuneaton: Ryan Millerchip (YC, 45), Josh Ruff (YC, 52)